The expression of hope and mental well-being

The expression of hope

The expression of hope as a response to illness has been considered in various ways (Soundy et al., 2013). The two primary considerations are hope as a dichotomy and hope as transcendence. Marcel (1951) defines hope as the act by which we are victorious over the temptation to despair. Viewing hope like this illustrates the potential vulnerability of an individual’s hope. The vulnerability of hope is that that an individual can’t see or are uncertain of hope within the presence of suffering (Soundy, Sayers, Stubbs and Roskell, 2014). It is important that expression of hope are understood. Hope as a dichotomy illustrates an expression relating to the relative impact of the illness, threat or problem with a focus on an important level of hope identified by the person. What is identified can be unique to the person, however the expression can be common in how it relates to hope. It is often associated with an individual’s past meaningful social identities which have been affected and represents a view that identifies how possible the (re)establishment of what is hoped for is. The dichotomy provides a range of expressions from no hope to concrete hope. Concrete hope is often associated with the belief in an external factor that can provide what is hoped for in the future (often within illness this can be through a drug, treatment). No hope illustrates the complete ability to access the important and higher levels of hope that are valued.

Possibility represents an essential middle ground between the extremes and a good evolution of either position. It provides a balanced view of hope that will positively impact mental well-being. When someone sees an outcome as possible they are able to reconcile the present circumstances with a future that has the potential for a greater variety of outcomes accepting this future is not certain (Soundy, Smith, Dawes, Pall, Gimbrere, and Ramsay, 2013). The idea of possibility represents a positive posture towards a given TCC. It represents a tipping point towards being hopeful about a situation although understanding that hope may not occur. Whereas uncertainty represents a similar concept but provides a negative posture to what has happened. It represents the tipping point towards no hope if you were to place the dichotomy on a scale.


The final expression of hope can be through transcendent hope (a complete embracement of the situation with an expression which highlights the value found in what is happening) or value changes (the importance of that which was once hoped for has been removed and meaningful activities and interaction or roles can be achieved in other ways or and the value on other aspects of life identified). Both expressions provide an illustration of how the expressions of hope can shift and change to reflect an embracement of the present. The embracement can be so great that the need for hope for change is removed, it provides that something positive can be gained, it can be represented by new goals, outlook and new connectedness in relationships and is accompanied by positive and often energised emotions. The expressions illustrate hope found through living in a way that focuses on the appreciation and value in those things which you have. These expressions represent a focus on what you currently have or are doing which is meaningful. Simply put when you focus on what you haven’t got, you may lose appreciation for what you have got. It represents a greater appreciation for those things that remain in one’s life that are valued. It also can be represented by a focus towards helping others. Value changes provide a path to contentment. Related to this, the expression of hope can often be represented by the hope in the ability to cope with what has happened (Soundy et al., 2012). Coping can often mean compromise for access of those valued aspects of life including social identities or roles that provide a sense of purpose and meaning. Hope in the ability to cope illustrates learning to master life with illness and continue or have access to those valued aspects of living are still possible. 


Broadly speaking the expression of hope can be illustrative of actions and behavior in three ways an inability to see or act because of the magnitude of the situation. An ability to take action which enables engagement in life, the focus on an external factor that will achieve those aspects of living which are desired (e.g., drug will create a cure) or the expression of hopes.