The England World Cup hero has endured almost three years of recurring injury problems and the 27-year-old admits he can no longer afford to let it bother him.
Wilkinson wants to regain his England place in time for next summer's World Cup but he feels he needs to loosen some of the renowned intensity that marked his earlier career.
Wilkinson, preparing for the new season with Newcastle Falcons, said: "I'll always set my sights a little too high and therefore I'll always be harsh on myself and over-analytical - these things are always part of what I want to achieve and where I want to go in life.
"But I think the understanding has changed. It's maybe just relinquishing some of that control and that desire for control, that saying I know I want to be at that next World Cup.
"That's a while away, I'll just do what I can in between and make sure whilst I'm doing that I'm enjoying myself.
"I won't be any less competitive because I want to enjoy myself. I just couldn't go on the way I was.
"The way forward for me is to do things with a smile on my face but beneath that smile I won't be any less competitive."